It is not easy to come back to yourself. You cannot pause who you are for a year, and return with a few new doohickeys under your emotional utility belt and simply resume. If every moment you are who you are, then who you were is only that. I sit in my living room in Windsor Terrace and I feel worlds apart from what I felt when I sat here a little more than a year ago. I feel much calmer, less scared of the world. I feel optimistic about my life and what it will hold for me. And yet I also feel the loneliness that has held my heart while I have been in New York. I have realized that I was always free to simply enjoy any given moment and never had to work to score on other people's rubrics. I am grateful for everything that has come before, all the messiness, all the pain. And though it doesn't always seem like the last year should have counted, I am one year from 30 and I have lived a beautiful life.
A break can be a revelation. I see so many things now from a middle distance. I see the incendiary people who fed my anxious flames. I see the undeliverable cargo I took on by internalizing other people's behavior. I see how impossible it is to live a life where you hold yourself to cover story expectations while coming to the realization that you are charmingly indecisive and deliberate. I see that I was living in a lovely, spacious room that was filled by unmeasured clutter. Everything in piles, in boxes, jammed under the bed (and on my bed), spread out over my huge desk. Objects that followed me from Austin, that were shrouded in the charm of my deep love for that place and time. Objects that look an awful lot like the bric-a-brac I have been clearing out of my mom's sizable house in Chantilly. Things of hers I exasperatedly tossed, with my eyes rolled back, perhaps still wearing the hurt of having most of my childhood remnants tossed away in the move.
Currently, I see myself twice: then and now. I see why I was so worried about finding love, learning so much about my father and playing out the stages of life (and unpredictable death) as I went through the stages of grief. Now I feel the same desire for love, but I can openly admit that I have a choosey heart (like it or not), one that trumps my eager, imaginative brain for meaning. I also had a wonderfully positive reminder over the summer, that my heart is not dormant, that it will tell me when to act, or rather it will grab hold of my whole being and toss me like a puppet into action, while my brain assigns reports and writes equations to try and translate.
I see why I was so obsessed with making Shipwreck into an empire. Why I wanted with all my being for it to change my lifestyle and make me into the intrepid, artistic New Yorker I ached to be. To give me income and flexibility and a sense of purpose, and honestly, worth. And I still want that, but stepping back I am able to sort the wheat from the chaff. To see that I had plucked the joy from my passion. To remember that I never wanted a big business sort of life, and to remember to see the magic of this current moment of creating my very own thing. To stay true to the craft business that I was making and not be sucked in by suggestions that I should be doing wedding invitations for money or should think about automation and selling my designs before I even got one piece of feedback from a fellow craft business owner or got to interact with a single customer. My goal is to do a craft show before the end of the year, but perhaps in actuality by the Spring of next.
I see why I left my home base of a job at Nitehawk, and I see how hard that was for me, and what a risk. And how much it hurt to go to a new job that felt so right at first and then felt so wrong (though it was certainly more complicated than that). I never gave myself enough credit for making that leap, even if my parachute didn't open how I wanted it to. As I prepare to leave Nitehawk again, I see a parallel to my dating life. Making a move is not enough, it has to be one with certain degrees of security, of confidence, that invokes pride, but still stirs me. This time, I feel more confident about the move both because I think it is the best thing for me to leave Nitehawk (financially, emotionally and out of ennui) and because I am moving toward working for someone I already know, who I already know I love working for, at a place with the kind of menu I can be proud of (farm-to-table), much closer to the part of Brooklyn I love so dearly (it's not North Brooklyn).
I see why I had anxiety and depression when I left. I was lonely, I was crippled by the confusing and inflammatory behavior of those around me, I was saddened by my inability to have feelings for any of the lovely women who showed interest in me, I felt too poor to enjoy the city, there were not enough hours in the day or days in the year to accomplish what I felt I had to, to prove to myself something I'm still not sure of, I could never decide how to enjoy myself and so I tossed and turned myself into a web, I felt too good for one job and not at all good enough for another, I felt immeasurably unaccomplished as an artist, I felt exasperated as a writer, I felt isolated from my friends, so many of whom have opposing schedules, others who just couldn't seem to make time for me, and I felt swamped by the many facets of my father's illness. That it could happen at all, and to someone who raised me, who was a good father and at the same time, not particularly close to me. Someone who was not a good communicator, who with every passing day lost his ability to do so even on a basic level. And here I was floundering in a city where I felt particularly measured by my parents who knew intimately my financial struggles of the past, who never seemed to appreciate that I had been happy in the past, and could very well read the fact that I was miserable as evidence of what they assumed all along, that I was unfulfilled and needed restructuring by my baby boomer parents and their hard won wisdoms about life.
I'm surprised I made it through at all. How did I not tear down my whole life?
This break, as all the most horrendous things in my life, is currently my favorite thing that has happened to me. It allowed me to get closer to my mom. It gave me some deal of closure with my father, as messy as it was. And it gave me space. Space to read and think and be away from all of my responsibilities whether social, fiscal, or emotional. To spend time with my how-are-they-so-old-already niece and nephew. To cook and help around the house and start planning a little workshop in my mom's garage. To reconnect with nature and the environment for pleasure and not just as a job, thanks in no small part to a wonderful friend who re-emerged into my life and was a huge healing light on my soul. To be with family and feel that life was just life and didn't have to come with all these self-imposed failures. To feel the breeze. To close my eyes and breathe. And once again feel lucky enough to try again.
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